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Pee-wee's Big Holiday (Music From the Netflix Original Film)

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Album Review

Released in 1985, Pee-Wee's Big Adventure featured a breakthrough score by Danny Elfman, then primarily known as bandleader of the new wave group Oingo Boingo. He delivered a soon-to-be cult classic with a refreshingly quirky, cartoonish sensibility that perfectly complemented the directing style of Tim Burton on what was the director's first feature-length film. Elfman was reenlisted for the 1988 sequel Big Top Pee-Wee, directed by Randal Kleiser. Nearly three decades later, another new wave frontman-turned-film composer, Devo's Mark Mothersbaugh, was tapped to provide music for the third Pee-Wee installment, 2016's Pee-Wee's Big Holiday. Using Elfman's work in the series as a template, Mothersbaugh employed atmospheric choir, mallet percussion, harp, and cymbals flesh out strings, brass, and woodwinds in the opening "Main Titles and Farewell." Pulsing strings and brass underscore playful percussion, high-range woodwinds, and the rare appearance of a guitar on the brisk "Pee-Wee's Morning Routine." The tone remains jolly on the jazzy "The Diner" and on the western-infused "Traveling Salesman," and becomes appropriately dramatic but never scary during scenes like "Bank Robbery" and "Escape from Church." "Hallucinations" keeps things zany with Theremin. There's one song on the soundtrack — "New York," a wry tribute to the city and perhaps to Bernstein-Comden-Green's "New York, New York" — performed by Paul Reubens as Pee-Wee Herman, with a responsive chorus ("Madison Square Garden, it isn't square and it isn't a garden"). With big shoes to fill, and without using any of Elfman's distinctive themes, Mothersbaugh manages to imitate the palette and the spirit of Elfman's original work to a degree where casual Pee-Wee fans likely won't notice the change, and soundtrack collectors may be nearly as charmed by the results.


Born: May 18, 1950 in Akron, OH

Genre: Soundtrack

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

While best known as one of the founders of the iconic new wave band Devo, Mark Mothersbaugh has quietly transformed himself into a renaissance man since the group's fortunes peaked in the '80s. Mothersbaugh has since distinguished himself as a composer for film and television, a visual artist, an author, a producer, and a designer. Mark Mothersbaugh was born in Akron, Ohio on May 18, 1950. Despite suffering from severe myopia and astigmatism -- he got his first pair of glasses at age seven -- Mothersbaugh...
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